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11/05/08 1:03 PM EST
Twins hope to add pop to strong lineup
Club seeking right-handed power bat to improve young offense
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins scored 829 runs in 2008, the third highest single-season total in franchise history. The club's batting average ranked in the top five in the Majors as did its number of RBIs, hits and triples. But while the Twins' lineup last season was one of the most productive ever for the club, hitting coach Joe Vavra believes that it was missing one key thing -- a right-handed power bat. "If we could have gotten somebody in there to protect our Nos. 3 and 4 hitters from the right side, that would have been ideal," Vavra said on Tuesday from his home near Menominee, Wis. "I think Jason Kubel did a nice job from the left side hitting in that fifth spot, but we would like to get somebody from the right side that puts up some power numbers. I think that's what is on the wish list for a lot of people right now." As of the first week in November, the expectation is that the Twins will return virtually the same lineup in 2009 as the one that brought them within one game of the playoffs this past season. For Vavra, that's just fine by him, as he's not campaigning for any drastic changes. "I love the potential of that group," Vavra said of his 2008 lineup, one of the youngest in the Majors. Still, there are a few holes for the Twins to address this winter. With the free agency period now under way and the trade market starting to heat up, the Twins have already begun exploring ways to improve their offense for next season. And like Vavra, many other people within the organization believe it means trying to add that right-handed power bat. So just where might the Twins be looking to add some additional pop to their lineup? The most likely choice appears to be at third base, a position that has been largely unsettled for the Twins in recent years. Twins general manager Bill Smith has acknowledged that the infield is an area that the organization needs to address this offseason, specifically the left side. Along with third base remaining unsettled, the club currently has an opening at shortstop as well. Although Vavra believes that the club has some quality internal options for third base, including Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris, he recognizes that third base could be an area where the team might be able to upgrade offensively. Yet the hitting coach didn't want to say it's the only way that power could be added to the lineup. "I don't know if it has to be a right-handed hitter at third base, but it would be nice to put a right-handed bat in that lineup that would give us a little more balance," Vavra said. "Brian Buscher did a nice job for us at third last year. I don't know which way we are going to go in terms of third base, but there is a need for right-handed power, no doubt." Smith showed last offseason -- his first as the club's GM -- that he was not afraid to make significant changes to the roster to fulfill a need. That included completing a six-player trade with the Rays to bring outfielder Delmon Young to Minnesota in an attempt to add offense.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.